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Oil Theft: JTF Impounds Ship In Bayelsa …Nigeria Loses $6bn Annually – PENGASSAN

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The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, has arrested a sea going vessel with 12 crew members along the Akassa Waterways in Bayelsa State.

In a statement in Yenagoa, last Saturday, Media Coordinator of Operation Pulo Shield, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the vessel was arrested during its anti-oil theft and pipeline vandalism operations.

Nwachukwu said that the operation took place between March 19 and March 29.

He said that the arrested vessel, MV Buyus with fake clearance documents, was secured at the Nigerian Navy Dock Yard in Brass Local Government of Bayelsa.

The suspects, according to the statement have been handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agencies for further investigation and subsequent prosecution.

It added that a fishing trawler christened Bolajoko with five crew members on board was also impounded by troops of the JTF at the NPA Jetty, Bonny in Rivers.

It said that the fishing trawler was impounded, while trans-loading suspected stolen crude into large plastic tanks and drums with the aid of water pumping machines.

The statement said that the suspects were currently undergoing preliminary investigations at the JTF Sector 2 Headquarters in Port Harcourt.

“Arrested alongside the vessel were 55 assorted boats conveying stolen petroleum product, along Otumara and Araton general area of Warri South Local Government Area of Delta.

“During the operation, five camps, where stolen crude oil was being refined illegally, were discovered and destroyed in Akassa, Sangana, Igbematoru and Ogbia creeks of Bayelsa.

“Also, 59 assorted open boats, 451 drums, 12 illegal oil refinery camps, 88 plastic tanks, six outboard engines and 18 pumping machines were seized.

“They were seized along Elume in Warri North, Escravos , Saghara Creeks in Warri South and Benneth Island in Delta,” Nwachukwu said.

He said that the land patrol squads of the JTF had also intercepted four tanker trucks conveying suspected stolen petroleum products along Enugu–Port Harcourt Express Road.

The drivers and tanker trucks were arrested when they failed to produce documents certifying them for lifting of the product.

They have been handed over to the Imo Command of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for prosecution.

The JTF, however, urged oil firms operating in the Niger Delta region to collaborate and evacuate the reservoirs used by the oil thieves to deter the oil thieves from returning to the illicit trade.

“This call was necessitated, following the finding that most of the illegal oil refinery camps discovered during the operation had earlier been scuttled by JTF troops.

“But were later resuscitated as the reservoirs were not evacuated from the crime scene,” it said.

Our correspondent  recalls that Shell Petroleum Development Company had threatened to shut its Nembe Trunk line because of rising incidents of oil theft through its pipeline network in Bayelsa.

The Managing Director of SPDC, Mr Mutiu Sumonu, on March 4, urged the JTF to step up its activities to reduce oil theft, currently standing at about 60,000 barrels daily.

Meanwhile, The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), says the country loses $6 billion annually to crude oil theft.

PENGASSAN’s President, Mr Babatunde Ogun,  made this known at a joint forum with the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) in Lagos yesterday.

He said that Nigeria also lost N105 billion to theft of refined products.

“This is a threat to our national security and our democracy. If this kind of huge amount of money gets into the wrong hands, it can destabilise our democracy and national security,’’ Ogun said.

He blamed the incessant loss of billions of money on vandalism of crude oil and petroleum products’ pipeline.

He express regrets that security forces had been unable to arrest the unwholesome practise which led to fire disaster in Arepo and Ogun and the subsequent shut down of Nembe Creek Trunk line by Shell.

“An estimated 60,000 barrels per day of crude oil is stolen at Nembe Creek. Agip also suspended production in Bayelsa because 60 per cent of its production of about 90,000 barrels is stolen per day.’’

He said it was sad that no one had ever been caught or prosecuted even when the miscellaneous offence Act provides for life imprisonment for anyone who stole crude oil, petroleum product or vandalised pipelines.

He advised government to beef-up security and warned that the oil and gas sector would suspend production of crude oil and supply of petroleum products if nothing was done.

Ogun called on government to deal with the insecurity problem in view of the resurgence of kidnapping and continuous bombings.

The president urged governors and local government chairmen to channel their security votes to step-up intelligence gathering and surveillance to nip crime in the bud at the planning stage

Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi (left),with members of University of Port Harcourt Alumni Association, during the inspection of project sites in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

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Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.

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$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others

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The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.

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